Archive for February, 2010

Twitter Proves Itself Again, in Chilean Earthquake

Saturday, February 27, 2010 12:04 6 Comments

Twitter has been a valuable tool in disaster and emergency situations in the past. A good example were the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008. In the wake of the massive Chilean earthquake on Saturday, it is proving itself again.

As has been shown in recent disasters, Twitter is an important resource for news coming straight out of the disaster area. As well, other events are being posted to various feeds. Twitter is tracking the Tsunami warnings with the hashtag #Tsunami. Some of the latest posts, at the time of this writing, include information that the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has announced that President Barack Obama is on the way to the White House situation room.

In addition to the #tsunami hashtag, much information is being posted using the #Chile hashtag, as well.

An example of an important tweet for those in tsunami zones, a tweet just came in saying in light of the Hawaii tsunami warning, the Hawaii tsunami evacuation maps site has been flooded with traffic.

RT @cfnoble Hey if you’re not *in* Hawaii, please don’t look at the evac maps. You’re jamming the servers, people! #tsunami pls RT

It’s not to say, however, that all the tweets are good info. Some are spamming the feed, as well.

Other online references include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which is issuing regular updates. Updates include estimated arrival times for waves in numerous countries around the Pacific Rim. Click the pink box to see the latest update. It won’t self refresh, however.

The latest update says the following are under tsunami warning:

A TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR

CHILE / PERU / ECUADOR / COLOMBIA / ANTARCTICA / PANAMA / COSTA RICA / NICARAGUA / PITCAIRN / HONDURAS / EL SALVADOR / GUATEMALA / FR. POLYNESIA / MEXICO / COOK ISLANDS / KIRIBATI / KERMADEC IS / NIUE / NEW ZEALAND / TONGA / AMERICAN SAMOA / SAMOA / JARVIS IS. / WALLIS-FUTUNA / TOKELAU / FIJI / AUSTRALIA / HAWAII / PALMYRA IS. / TUVALU / VANUATU / HOWLAND-BAKER / NEW CALEDONIA / JOHNSTON IS. / SOLOMON IS. / NAURU / MARSHALL IS. / MIDWAY IS. / KOSRAE / PAPUA NEW GUINEA / POHNPEI / WAKE IS. / CHUUK / RUSSIA / MARCUS IS. / INDONESIA / N. MARIANAS / GUAM / YAP / BELAU / JAPAN / PHILIPPINES / CHINESE TAIPEI

The different levels of alert run Warning, Watch, Advisory.

The epicenter of the 8.8 earthquake in Chile was, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, (USGS), 56 miles northeast of the city of Concepcion at a depth of 22 miles at 3:34 AM (1:34 AM ET). The quake was so huge that nations around the Pacific have issued tsunami alerts or advisories. For example, as noted above, there is a Hawaii tsunami alert, and California has issued a tsunami advisory (the lowest level of alert). Asian, Australian and New Zealand shores will see waves within 24 hours of the earthquake, experts said.

Compared to the January 12th Haiti quake, the Chilean earthquake was 8.8 vs. 7.0. The Richter scale is base-10 logarithmic, though, so an earthquake that measures, for example, 5.0 on the scale has a shaking amplitude 10 times larger than one that measures 4.0. In terms of energy produced by the quake, Jessica Sigala, a geophysicist with the USGS told NBC that the quake released 500 times more energy than the than the one that hit Haiti.

The largest recorded earthquake of all time was the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960 (shown above). The magnitude of that quake was 9.5.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, referring to the Hawaii tsunami warning, said the state could face its largest waves since 1964. They could start as early as 11:19 AM (4:19 PM EST). The bulletin said, “Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property. All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face.”
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AT&T Expands MicroCell Trial To Five Regions

Saturday, February 27, 2010 2:04 No Comments

AT&T has finally expanded its MicroCell service trial beyond Charlotte, NC. Unfortunately, they chose not to expand the trial to San Francisco or New York City, two ares of the country well-known to be sagging under the weight of the iPhone.

The trial has been expanded to “select counties” in the following states and metropolitan areas:

  • Georgia
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • San Diego
  • Las Vegas

To determine if you are actually eligible for the program, you have to enter your zip code, as well. In the Charlotte test, the MicroCell was running $150 with no monthly fees. It covers a 5,000 square foot area and can handle up to four users simultaneously.

AT&T’s MicroCell is actually a femtocell. Femtocells can be thought of as cellular base stations, that connect to the service provider’s network via broadband (such as DSL or cable).

While it is true that there are some areas of the country that simply will never be covered effectively, it’s a little disconcerting for users who live in areas that should have decent coverage (such as, in the future, New York City and San Francisco) to have to pay to supplement AT&T’s overloaded network.
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Shamu’s Twitter Feed Shut Down After Trainer’s Death

Saturday, February 27, 2010 2:03 1 Comment

As hard as it might be to believe, the killer whales at SeaWorld have a Twitter feed. However, following the death of SeaWorld veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau, Shamu’s Twitter feed has been shut down.

Despite the fact that each orca (killer whale) has its own name, “Shamu,” “Namu,” and “Ramu” are trademarked stage names given to all of the orcas residing within the SeaWorld parks. In the wake of the tragedy on Wednesday, however, the following Twitter post was made:

At this difficult time, @Shamu will not be active. For Twitter updates follow @SeaWorld_Parks. http://bit.ly/b0oU3l

The URL-shortened link in the post leads to a longer statement, which says, in part:

[...] At this difficult time, @Shamu will not be active on Twitter, as users who follow @Shamu have come to expect posts that are light-hearted and perhaps a bit quirky. SeaWorld’s other accounts, including @SeaWorld_Parks, will remain active and regular updates will be communicated through Twitter and other social networking platforms.

We will continue to provide information in this space on our review of this incident and the changes to our procedures that may progress from it. We thank you for the thousands of messages of support during this extraordinarily difficult time.

Despite what that statement says, if you read through the comments on that post, you see plenty of people “being unsupportive.”

Prior to the incident, in which Dawn Brancheau, 40, was pulled by her ponytail underwater and drowned by Tillikum, a 30-year-old orca, Shamu had over 10,000 followers. Her (Shamu is really short for She-Namu) bio:

I live at SeaWorld. I’m a large, athletic, black and white marine mammal. I’m not THE star of SeaWorld, I’m A star of SeaWorld

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Hackers Deliver Malware To Searchers Of SeaWorld Death Video

Saturday, February 27, 2010 2:01 No Comments

Hackers are taking advantage of the somewhat maladjusted interests of people by injecting malware into web pages. Some of the results of searches for terms such as “sea world trainer killed home video” and “killer whale kills trainer footage,” which are top search trends on Google, lead to dangerous sites, according to a report by security firm Sophos.

Those searching are looking for videos of the killer whale Tillikum, who killed veteran SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld Orlando’s Shamu Stadium on Wednesday. They are searching for actual footage of the killing, as morbid as it might seem.

However, those searching for terms like “sea world trainer killed home video” are often being delivered harmful results. Fortunately, much of the time, hitting one of the those links will lead you to a warning page (as shown above). If the infected site is very new however, it’s still possible you will be able to reach the malware-laden site.

The hackers are using the tried-and-true rogue antivirus method. You may have seen this previously; you surf to a site, a Window pops up saying your computer either “is” or “may be” infected. If you accept their offer, you will install software on your system that is essentially malware itself. Here’s what Sophos said:

The heartless hackers are taking advantage of the hot news story by popping up fake anti-virus (also known as scareware or rogue anti-virus) alerts. The alerts are designed to frighten unsuspecting users into believing there is a security problem with their computer, which could lead them into downloading dangerous software or handing over their credit card details.

The tactic being used by cybercriminals is the same as the one we saw after the death of Natasha Richardson and Patrick Swayze, and when they exploited interest amongst the public in the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack last year.

You could argue that anyone hunting for footage of this horrific accident deserves everything that’s coming to them, but the real sick ones here are the hackers who are trying to profit from the death of an innocent woman in a tragic accident.

These sites are not all that uncommon. The common sense rule is if you get a pop-up that says “your PC might be infected” and asks to run a scan … don’t do it! Close the tab, or use the back arrow to back out of the site. You should be OK as long as you do not accept the offer to scan your system.

Although Jim Atchinson, president of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment confirmed that SeaWorld had actual video of the attack, the only video released close to that event is the below, a home video taken just before the attack.
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